Fine Gael Meath West TD, Ray Butler, has welcomed the fact that social welfare inspectors are carrying out spot checks to ensure people are not falsely claiming child benefit. Deputy Butler was speaking after one of the inspectors called for his family home in Trim.
"I am glad to see the Department of Social Protection taking a proactive stance on social welfare fraud, which is causing the State hundreds of millions of euro each year. The Department of Social Protection makes payments to some 1.4 million people every week. While the vast majority of these payments are legitimate, we must eliminate those who are defrauding the system.
He explained: "An inspector recently called to my home in Trim, to ask about the child benefit payments being made in respect of my three daughters and one son. My wife supplied the relevant documents to the inspector to show that we were all fully accounted for.
"Social welfare fraud is not a victimless crime. At a time when we are facing another harsh budget which will involve very difficult decisions, we must ensure that fraud is being stamped out. Not only does welfare fraud cost the State a significant sum every year, it undermines public confidence in the system. The door to door spot checks are part of an initiative by the Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton TD, to achieve fraud savings of €625 this year.
"The fact that my home was visited by an inspector shows that these checks are random and fair. Child benefit is an essential payment for thousands of households across the county, giving parents a significant helping hand in providing for their children.
The Fine Gael backbencher said that middle income families are under severe financial pressure.
" While many people might not like the idea of getting a knock on the door from a social welfare inspector, I think these spot checks should be viewed as a necessary and proactive measure. We want to ensure fraud is eliminated so we can continue to provide payments to those who need them most."